As Seo Tactics Go, Buying Links Has to Be One of the Worst.
It's been talked about so much by Google, that you'd be foolish to think that offering to sell links in any way would be frowned upon, and people would simply stay away.
But they don't.
Why they're bad
Links are the backbone of the Internet, and it's the biggest single factor in determining where a website ranks.
If you have a lot of really good quality links pointing to your website, then you'll do well. Those links are like a “vote” that says, “here's a good website, it's so good I'm linking to it.”
So, get a lot of great links and you're good to go, your website will do well.
The best way to get these links is to have someone look at your content and decide for themselves that they want to link to you.
Great content gets great links.
However, you can also buy some links.
This really is as easy as it sounds.
Someone with a bunch of websites that get lots of visitors and are currently doing well can offer to put your article on one or more of them and pop a link back to your main site.
Some companies offer a monthly service where they will create regular links for you using articles they come up with. Most of these links are on their “network of websites.”
Now, there's a problem with this.
Google says you should never buy links. They in fact altered their algorithm to find paid-for links and penalise sites that had used them.
The update was called Penguin:
Google launched the Penguin Update in April 2012 to better catch sites deemed to be spamming its search results, in particular, those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.
They made it pretty clear. If you're buying links to boost your rankings, then you're going to fall foul of the rules, and you may be penalised.
Many sites were caught out, and they lost all of their rankings, essentially being kicked out of Google altogether.
But this company says they're “white hat links.” Surely they’re safe?
The term “white hat” has been coined to describe SEO techniques that don't fall foul of Google's rules. “Black hat” is the opposite.
I've seen adverts for companies that are selling “100% white hat links”.
They're not. They can't be. If you're buying links, you're breaking the rules – it's that simple.
So, most of the big agencies moved away from using such techniques and instead the world decided guest posting was the way to go.
And they're right, but even that has become dodgy.
Buying links by another name
I had an email from a company that offered to guest post for me.
I enquired for a price list, and they gave me a call.
The guy on the phone said that they have a network of bloggers that they approach in order to get articles posted on their sites. But, these bloggers charge a fee.
And there you go.
If you charge a fee for a link, it's against the rules. Simple as that.
And a few weeks ago I approached a law blog and asked if they accepted guest posts.
Here's the reply I got:
And that's the situation we're in now.
A lot of people in the industry see nothing wrong in this, and they say that there's no way Google could know about these techniques, so they're safe.
Well, I remember the exact same things being said just before the Penguin update.
I now know of a number of sites that accept guest posts in exchange for a fee, so it must be easy for Google to know the same.
But do they work?
Honestly, yes, there's no doubt they work, so why don't I recommend them?
Well, at any time Google could decide that you've used dodgy tactics and simply wipe out all of your rankings.
Seriously, at any time, and you would be able to do absolutely nothing about it.
And they will find out.
If you have paid for links, then Google, with its vast resources, can do the same.
Also, there are tens of thousands of people who spend their time looking for and reporting companies that buy and sell links; it happens all the time.
Yep, people will snitch on you.
A report goes into Google, they investigate and find that they're selling links and then they get a warning.
Any sites that already have links from that site will automatically have their benefit removed, and worse, they might get a penalty.
Never, ever, ever pay any money for a link.
Andy Calloway is the co-owner and head writer for Calloway Green Ltd, a digital marketing agency based in the village of Kinver in the West Midlands.
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